It felt like a homecoming to be back in Schönaich again. This village of 10,000 (the same as our hometown of Miami Shores) is a little southeast of Stuttgart and has been the home of my Ulmer ancestors back to the time of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) – and the family is still here!
Genealogy has been a long-time interest of mine and I was able to connect with distant cousins here through that research about 12 years ago, leading to several trans-Atlantic visits in both directions. In fact, this is the fourth time we’ve been to Schönaich where we’ve been guests of my third cousin, Heike, and her family in their beautiful home.The day after our arrival, we had a typical German (can I say Swabian?) dinner of Wurst, Brezels (pretzel-bread) and Weissbier (wheat beer). Yum!
Schönaich is in the German state of Baden-Württemberg which is also where you will find the Black Forest and the Swabian Alps. The natives of this region call themselves Swabian and they speak a dialect unique to the region that most other Germans cannot understand. At least that’s my excuse for having such a hard time trying to communicate in my elementary German.
In case you’re wondering how I know that my Ulmer ancestors lived in Schönaich as far back as the early 1600s, that framed family tree over my shoulder in the photo below is the proof. Researched from records from the local Evangelical (Lutheran) Church and written in the 1920s, my great-grandfather’s name appears in the top branch as having gone to America in the 1880s; the root of the tree is Jerg Ulmer, circa 1630.
Our special purpose for this visit to Schönaich is to attend the confirmation of Heike’s and Jörg’s daughter, Dorothea, at that same church. After the service, the whole family will return to their house for a celebratory toast before adjourning to a nearby restaurant for lunch. The house is well-prepared for the festivities tomorrow: